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Possibly the most famous ship of the Tudor age is the Mary Rose, one of Henry VIII’s war ships. In 1545 The ship sank in the Solent, the stretch of water between the south coast of England and the Isle of Wight.

The ship was raised over 400 years later in 1982. Because the silt (very fine mud) at the bottom of the Solant had preserved part of the ship and its contacts so well, it gave a really good snapshot into life onboard a Tudor ship.

The Mary Rose - 'Geoff Hunt, PPRSMA'.jpg

The Mary Rose by Geoff Hunt, PPRSMA. © Mary Rose Trust

The ship wasn’t just a place of work, but was also home to hundreds of sailors. There were lots of everyday objects on board, many of them personal that belonged to the crew, that help tell us about their everyday lives. Amongst the objects were plates, bowls and tankards for eating and drinking. There were fine pewter ones for the officers but many wooden ones for sailors of lower rank. These were particularly important finds as every-day objects such as these were often thrown away and didn't survive.There were also cooking pots and the remains of animal bones which helped us to understand how sailors at the time would cook and what food they would prepare to eat. Other things found in the wreckage of the ship were items of clothing, games used for entertainment, tools, quill pens, weapons, and even the skeleton of the ship's dog.

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Skeleton of 'Hatch' the dog found on board the Mary Rose. © Mary Rose Trust

There were also a number of coins found onboard belonging to crew members, but also coins and objects belonging to the ship's Purser, including a small set of scales thought to be for weighing gold coins. The purser was the member of the crew who was responsible for paying sailors wages, keeping the ships accounts, buying supplies, making sure food and drink rations was handed out properly, and changing money. A purser held quite a high status on board and would often be given their own private cabin.

Purser (FCS 88) by Oscar Nilsson' and gold coins (c) Mary Rose Trust.jpg

Drawing of the Purser on the Mary Rose by Oscar Nilsson and the type of gold coins he would have used. © Mary Rose Trust


Suggested links

Meet the crew of the Mary Rose

3D objects from the Mary Rose

About the Mary Rose

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